If you’re a true beginner in the gym – or you haven’t trained for a while and you’re just getting back into things – then you’re probably both excited and nervous.
You can make some fairly rapid changes to your body in the beginning and this should have a positive effect on how you feel about working out and how motivated to actually go to the gym.
In this blog post, I want to tell you about some of the pitfalls that exist for beginners and how you can overcome them in your fitness programme.
Be aware though, in order to make real change and become more comfortable with your body shape, you will need to keep consistency with your fitness sessions: ensure you keep going and don’t give up. To get the body shape you want in life persistence is key.
1. Choose the type of training with your goal in mind
Once you’ve decided what it is you want from health and fitness, it’s important to put together a plan to reach your goal.
Then, in that plan, it’s crucial to decide what activities you’ll do at your local gym to help you get there.
Are you looking to lose fat and look slimmer?
Choose strength training (yes, for the ladies too) and HIIT (High Intensive Interval Training). These workouts will help to maximise fat loss long after your workout.
Training for a triathlon?
Cardio and long distance running, as well as time in the pool and on the bike are a must. You will also benefit from lifting weights and training your muscles to take on heavier loads and cope under fatigue. This will also help you prepare to push through the pain barrier of lactic acid build up during the competition.
Doing the three peaks challenge?
Cardio and low intensity exercises will only get you so far. You should lift weights in the gym and you definitely don’t want to skip leg day. Much like I highlighted in my climbing Mount Kilimanjaro post.
Been advised to lose weight by your doctor?
IF you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol or need to reduce your body weight or overall diabetes risk then strength training is going to be a winner.
Yes, some doctors still recommend low intensity cardio like walking on the treadmill, but lifting weights will have a much better impact on your progress and it also increases your heart rate during the session (helping the cardiovascular system at the same time).
Have an injury that a chiropractor said requires rehabilitation exercises?
Our CHEK practitioners specialise in helping individuals with back, neck and shoulder pain, and then becoming free of that pain. But, if you’re doing some rehabilitation exercises on your own then do them slowly and follow the programme from start to finish.
2. Learn proper technique
The last thing you want to be doing is working out and then injuring yourself. Learning proper technique for exercises will help by:
- Accelerating strength development
- You’ll gain more muscle and lose more body fat
- Joint pain will get better
- You’ll protect yourself from future injury
At Masters Fitness, we believe it’s really important to learn proper technique and to keep the correct form when doing different exercises. This helps when you go up in weight you want to grow your strength without injury. If you become injured then it could mean not working out for weeks or even months.
3. Always have a plan when you walk into the gym
Don’t wing it.
If the gym is busy and you’re feeling a little tired then you’re more likely to do the exercises that you prefer instead of the ones that you are supposed to be doing.
Hint: lots of the exercises that people don’t like doing are the ones that will help them reach their goals faster!
If you have a plan for every workout then there’s no need to do other exercises or take it easy. Being focused on your sets and reps, and knowing exactly what you should be doing, will likely help you get to where you want to be much faster.
4. Be consistent
If your plan shows you where you are going then consistency is the fuel to get you there. If you become inconsistent then you will find that you won’t be losing weight as quickly as you think you should be, and your progress will suffer.
Things don’t just happen over a few days with your body. Most times you’ll need to wait weeks or even months to see and feel that your strength is developing and your body is changing.
Lots of people don’t realise how much progress they’ve actually made until we show them their before and after photos side by side. A shocked and happy face usually results after looking at these.
If you’re sticking to your diet, making the required lifestyle changes, and working out with intent and focus then it should only take a few weeks for you to see that you’re losing weight. Muscle mass can take a lot longer to show.
People who stick to their diet 90% of the time (no one is perfect) and show up to workout multiple times a week will reach their goals.
5. Develop simple nutrition habits
If you’re like most people then it can take heading to a negative place or a moment in life when you’re pushed into making a change.
Lots of people start their weight loss journey by slashing calories, working out hard and eating clean, but they tend to cheat a little here and there and slowly slip back into their old habits. Then they decide that they’ll start a different diet and the whole cycle happens again.
The main thing to do if you want consistent results is to keep things simple. Such as:
- Eat protein at every meal (read this article for how much)
- Eat lots of green leafy vegetables in all meals
- Drink lots of water (hydration is important)
- Plan when you will eat during the day and stick to it
- Remove processed foods and refined foods from your diet
Keep a log or diary of your food too. Use an app like MyFitnessPal to keep track of everything you put in your mouth and, yes, even when you have a cheat meal or fall off track with your nutrition plan.
6. Accept that most of what you have read is wrong
The press and media love a good story, and that is so true when it comes to telling us about the latest health facts, published studies and fad diets that celebrities are promoting.
You might also have been taught that cardio is needed for fat loss (false), you must stretch before working out (false) or that lifting weights will make you big and bulky like a guy (false).
All of these myths circulate and sometimes morph into something strange, and then confuse the heck out of people when following the “advice” doesn’t get them to where they want to be.
We recommend seeing a local fitness professional and learning from them. Whether that’s talking over and becoming clear on your goal, having the right workout programme or making the right changes in your diet and lifestyle habits.
7. Cover the basics first
If something new comes along and you tend to get excited then take note. Just because you haven’t done a certain exercise before or used a specific piece of equipment, it doesn’t mean you need to.
Seek the advice of a fitness coach who will show you some of the main exercises that will help you create metabolic stress, burn through calories and finally lose that excess weight.
Understand how many calories you need to consume to stay at maintenance and then what you should be doing to have a calorie deficit. Understanding how the human body works with nutrition, and what proteins, fats and carbs are will help you immensely.
And, concentrate completely on getting a restful night’s sleep. It will help you wake up rested and with the energy to attack the day. It’s also crucial for the body to do what you ask of it: repair your muscles ready for strength training and burn through some of that body fat.
Energy fuels energy
If you become excited and want to get to a body shape that you have in mind then you will.
It’s important to know that the energy you put in will fuel the energy and motivation to keep you going. But, it’s important to know when your motivation is so low that you need either a workout buddy to spur you on or some professional help from a leading fitness company in the local area.